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Tidy House Hacks

Updated on February 3, 2020
Cathryn Olson profile image

Cat is a freelance actress and writer while taking care of her three children and a growing hobby farm.

Keeping a tidy home shouldn't drive you crazy.

Life is busy. Between working, commuting, raising kids, volunteering, running errands, and remembering appointments, there's hardly time to relax, let alone keep up with housework. The key to keeping house without losing your mind? Keep it simple!

"Once you've identified the primary function of your house, you can begin to downsize the extra clutter that doesn't support this function. "

Have A Vision

The best way to begin your home organization is to create a vision for your home. Identify what is most important to you and your family at this stage in life. Once you've identified your priorities, you can design a home that supports those goals.

If family time is your number one priority, your focus might be on a cozy family room with comfy sofas, a big tv, and lots of well organized games and toys.
If your home is an animal sanctuary, you will want to focus on creating a pet-proof, easy to vacuum, safe environment for your furry friends.
If you love having block parties, hosting Bridge night, being Super Bowl central, or inviting over the entire family for Thanksgiving, you'll want to have a stocked up kitchen, plenty of linens, and a streamlined cleaning routine.

Once you've identified the primary function(s) of your house, you can begin to downsize the extra clutter that doesn't support these functions. The weight set you never use can be sold to make room for a killer Lego station. The glass collectibles gathering dust can be donated or packed away out of Fido's reach. You may decide the craft closet would be better used storing extra tables and paper plates for your frequent guests.

"Avoid hanging on to items for Someday. What you save in pennies you pay for in time and energy."

Less Is More

The fewer items you own, the fewer items you have to keep tidy. Clutter is expensive not only in the money it costs to acquire, but also in the time and energy required to keep it clean and organized. Make an effort only to keep the items that truly support your current vision or are necessary for day to day life. If you haven't worn it, used it, read it, or thought about it in the last two years, it's probably time to pass it on to someone who can make regular use of it.

What about memorabilia and sentimental items? The general rule of thumb is the smaller the footprint the better. Do you really need to keep all of Grandma's hand knit dolls, or could you take photographs to keep in an album alongside your favorite stories of her life? Do you need every jersey your son wore from T-ball to college baseball, or could you frame just his championship number for display in his room?

Avoid hanging on to items for "someday". While it may feel frugal to keep craft supplies because you might learn to knit "someday," shoe boxes for the school diorama your child will be assigned "someday," or all the spare screws and buttons for a repair you might need to make "someday," remember that what you save in pennies you pay for in the time and energy expended in keep those items tidy (or digging through them when you don't). If the items could be replaced for a few dollars, borrowed when needed, or donated by a friend or neighbor (who likely have a spare screw or shoe box) then it's worth your peace of mind to get them out of your home.

"The more visual clutter there is in a home,the harder it is to keep track of the items we really need."

Out of Sight is Out of Mind

The old axiom Out of Sight, Out of Mind is a great strategy for organizing the home. The more visual clutter there is in a home,the harder it is to keep track of the items we really need. The key is to put away all items that you don't use on a regular basis, and display prominently items that are either of great importance, or often forgotten.

Place extra blankets and pillows in decorative baskets. Keep files, papers, and desk supplies in a drawer. Stash kitchen tools and small appliances inside cupboards. Stow sports gear in bins in the garage. Toss thrift-store donations in a special bag in the trunk. Anything that you don't need on a daily basis should be placed out of sight.

Important or often forgotten items, however, should be stored in plain sight. A calendar posted near the front door will remind you of important events. A bowl or bin in the foyer is a great drop spot for keys, wallets, glasses, a library book that needs to be returned. Hooks by the front or garage door are great for keeping kids' backpacks, school shoes, jackets, lunchboxes and any other paraphernalia they might forget on a busy morning. A charging station in the kitchen or on a nightstand is a great way to keep track of phones and other important electronics. The more items you're able to stash away out of sight, the easier it is to find the important items you need for your day.

Mind The Multiples

Some items in the home seem to multiply like rabbits. 15 pairs of nail clippers, 9 pairs of scissors, 6 rolls of duct tape. This often happens because we fail to return things to their place when finished. If you constantly find yourself buying more of an item you are sure you have somewhere in your home, try using labels. Use a sharpie to write "desk" on the scissors that belong on your desk and "kitchen" on the kitchen shears. This will make it easier for anyone in the home to return the item to its rightful location if it happens to get misplaced. Once you've corralled all your multiples and assigned them a place, you can donate any unnecessary extra.

However, just like having scissors for your desk and for the kitchen, having multiples of some items can keep your house tidier. Having an extra set of an item in several designated locations can keep you from forgetting where you've left them, and buying yet another. Keeping a small cleaning set in the kitchen and each bathroom makes it easy to wipe up a mess as soon as you see it. Having a broom both upstairs and downstairs prevents procrastination because you can clean up much more quickly. Having a small trash can by the door in each room may prevent wrappers from collecting under the couch or tissues building up by the bedside. The key is determining which multiples are occurring by accident, and which are intentional for the sake of making housework more streamlined.

"Keep only what you love, store things where they're logical and handy, and design your storage to fit the way your family lives."

Keep It Simple

The number one method for keeping the house tidy is to make tidying simple. The easier it is to put an item away, the more likely we are to get it back in its place when we're finished. The closer at hand we keep our tools, the more likely we are to complete a cleaning task. Tossing folded laundry into bins or onto a shelf is easier than hanging or stuffing into a drawer. Keeping frequently used kitchen tools within arms reach makes them easier to return when we're done. Save tall cupboards and very low shelves for special occasion items. As much as possible, store items in the rooms where they will be used. Use labels on bins so all members of the household can find an item's home quickly. Wherever you find yourself with re-occurring clutter, take a moment to assess the cause and see how you can make organizing easier. A small accordion file on the counter could prevent paper clutter on the dining table. A basket at the bottom of the stairs is a great place to corral items waiting to be taken up. A plastic bag tied to a headrest can catch snack wrappers in the car.


Keeping your home streamlined and tidy can be easy if you keep only what you love, store things where they're logical and handy, and design your storage to fit the way your family lives.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cat Olson

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